North Smethwick Development Trust (NSDT) has a long history and has been on a true journey – making social impact and development of the local people our top priority. And we continue in our passion for social enterprise, social inclusion and real community action for local people.
Our core values are to:
• improve the health & well being of our community
• reduce poverty
• help our children and young people reach their potential
• build pride in the place we live and work.
NSDT and the Brasshouse Centre remain at the heart of our community. While there were extensive plans in place for community activity, the COVID-19 pandemic led to real challenges. In March 2020, the country went into national lockdown, but the people at the centre stepped up, providing vital support to our local communities. And throughout the challenging months of lockdowns and local restrictions – NSDT has continued to be there for its local community.
As of 2021, the Brasshouse Community Centre was proud to work with partners from the NHS and become one of the first community COVID-19 vaccination centres in the country; fighting to keep our community safe as part of the fight against the pandemic.
2019 – The Brasshouse flourishes
Creativity and the Arts
Brasshouse arts starts from the point of view that arts and culture are among a community’s most powerful assets. It distinguishes each community and allows people to better understand and celebrate their uniqueness.
Our aim is to provide a creative hub to artists, designers and crafters. Through the provision of a space with the right environment for people to learn new skills, work together to develop existing skills and share skills and most importantly have fun while doing it.
Arts at Brasshouse provide opportunities for local people to engage and celebrate their creativity.
Within our venue space we give opportunity for thes=atre, live music, community activities and much much more.
Catering and Venue Hire
The catering social enterprise offers young people a route into the catering and hospitality industry creating a synergy between our services and dovetails with our ambition to offer volunteering into employment opportunities for local people.
Café at the Centre is at the heart of our community. Freshly made drinks, breakfasts, lunches and snacks in the beautiful café inside Brasshouse Community Centre feature delicious ingredients help to support the local economy and our profits are put back into the work we do in the local community.
2016 – Flying Tales of Folklore
In 2016, young women from Youth Quake had being working with metal work artist Luke Perry to create sculptures based upon folklore stories and fairy tales that are special to them.
Their research spanned all counties and all cultures drawing upon stories from family and friends and their own research. Their final choices and favourite stories have been encapsulated in 12 exciting sculptures based upon their research which feature at the Brasshouse Community Centre.
A visit to Luke Perry’s factory (a working factory based in Cradley Heath) where they fabricated, welded and had a great time learning how to work with metal gave them ideas on how their final sculptures would be made. Learning about the history of chain making in the Black Country provided a fantastic opportunity for them and they made their own chain link. This was a great way for the group to learn a little about manufacturing and the long and wonderful history that the Black Country has.
The project provided young women with opportunities they would never have had the chance to experience. It is thanks to the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for giving them this great learning opportunity. The project had been supported by Rosie Price; Project Coordinator at NSDT and Karan Channer; Youth Engagement Officer at Creative Academies.
The sculptures range from The Bangladesh Rickshaw with wings which is symbolic of the thriving Bangladeshi Culture in Smethwick and it is a specific replica of the ones used in Bangladesh. The Spider is a sculpture of Anansi, an African folktale character who often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories.
2014 – The newly refurbished Brasshouse Community Centre is opened
The new Brasshouse opened in 2014 offering a greater range of services/activities for local communities – ranging from a holiday club for children through to professional theatre productions bringing arts into the heart of our community.
It’s a building that local people are proud of. Further investment was sought post redevelopment, to help us develop a successful catering and venue hire operation creating a sustainable business model to help secure the financial independence of NSDT consolidating a successful asset transfer.
2013 – The Brasshouse Community Centre is transformed
NSDT was the pilot for a community asset transfer with Sandwell Council – and signed a 99 year lease agreement for the property in 2013.
Their support enabled NSDT to progress its ambition to redevelop Brasshouse. Consulting with over 500 local people, NSDT secured significant funds to redevelop a 1960s dilapidated building into a new community hub. The capital project was shaped by research commissioned by NSDT in 2012 that captured local people’s priorities, needs and aspirations.
The £830,000 project was a mosaic of funds: grant funding represented the largest proportion, an interest free loan and in-kind materials and pro bono support from local businesses.
Funded in part by the Big Lottery Fund (which identified Brasshouse as a good practice case study), it was a project delivered on time and within budget.
Grant funding totalled £720,000 from a range of funders, a interest free loan of £65,000 from Sandwell Council and £50,000 in-kind support and building materials from local businesses.
Download a photo book showing the redevelopment of the Brasshouse.
2007 – The Brasshouse Community Centre becomes part of NSDT
In 2007, the Trust took the decision to assume management responsibility of the Centre focussing on supporting local people through community development projects and community engagement. As a development trust, it now delivers a range of social enterprise projects, community projects, and projects for children and young people and a whole host of other activities and services.
Our match day car parking social enterprise has been established since 1995 providing employment for local people.
This is a partnership with CENTRO where we manage parking at the Hawthorns station car park on match days as well as at the Brasshouse, with income from this enterprise used in our work with children, young people and older people and is a vital revenue stream to support such activities.
1992 – North Smethwick Development Trust is formed
By 1992, the group had formalised themselves as a Company Limited by Guarantee and registered as a Charity – the North Smethwick Community Trust (NSTD).
Following the success of the earlier housing development project, the Trust was selected to manage the Albion estate regeneration project. A renovation of 160 council and owner occupied properties, this was £3.5 million housing investment project was successfully completed in 2001.
Those early days of local people in action did not diminish and over time the Trust became more active in the running of the Brasshouse Community Centre which was, at that time, owned and managed by Sandwell MBC.
1988 – Local community comes together
In 1988, a group of local people successfully challenged a Compulsory Purchase Order placed on older, local housing. Led by the Rev Janet Full James, local residents got organised and managed to secure funds to employ a community development worker.
The resident group then worked with Sandwell Council to manage a major grant aided renovation programme of local homes that had been previously earmarked for demolition.